Latest Laois News: Local TD launches blistering attack on Government’s response to forestry crisis
“Government response to forestry crisis fast becoming like Groundhog Day,” Carol Nolan
Independent TD for Laois-Offaly Carol has launched a scathing attack on the capacity of government and in particular the Minister of State for Land Use and Biodiversity, Pippa Hackett, to effectively respond to the ongoing crisis in the forestry sector. Deputy Nolan was speaking during a Dáil debate on the Report of the Joint Committee on Agriculture and the Marine entitled ‘Issues impacting the Forestry Sector in Ireland’:
“The government’s response really is becoming like Groundhog Day. TD’s have brought this issue up so many times at a cross-party level. It is shameful what is happening in our country. Timber is being imported. The Government is missing its own climate change targets. That is crazy. The afforestation target was to plant 8,000 ha annually, and the Government is missing that target. That does not inspire confidence in any farmer to plant trees.”
“The Minister of State needs to prove herself and listen to us. The frustrating thing for us all is that many of us put forward solid and good amendments asking the Government to put timeframes in place in terms of the processing of licence applications. It refused to do so. It refused to collaborate and rejected all of those amendments.”
“Forestry contributes €2.3 billion to our economy. The Minister of State does not seem to grasp how important it is for farmers, foresters, sawmills and everyone in the sector. Our sawmills are going through a difficult time again. We have raised the issue with the Minister of State over the past year and a half, but she has not taken anything on board. She made reference in her speech to teamwork and working as a team. I sincerely hope she puts that into practice and starts listening to the stakeholders, who are telling me that Project Woodland is failing miserably because it has not done what it was supposed to do. That is the bottom line. The Government needs to take urgent action to save a sector that is on the brink and to save 12,000 jobs, a big proportion of which are in the Minister of State’s constituency of Laois-Offaly, as she well knows.
“We do not need any more reports. I have said that in a number of conversations I have had with foresters. A number of Deputies in the constituency of Laois-Offaly met the stakeholders. We do not need more reports from the Government; we need action. The Minister of State needs to prove herself and save the 12,000 jobs that are now on the brink,” concluded Deputy Nolan.